When is the Right Time to Get a Dog?

When I moved out of my parents house into my own apartment, one of my first thoughts was “Yay! Now I can get my own dog!” Having a dog is such an exciting idea, especially if you live alone. You think of having companionship, long walks, snuggles, and posting cute pictures on social media. The reality was that I was in my early 20’s, working as a teller at a bank, and making just enough to get by. I was paying bills on my own for the first time, and my overwhelming student loan payments finally kicked in. But, I still wanted to have a life outside of work. I was young! There were happy hours to attend and nights out dancing with my girlfriends. However, any time that I was home alone watching TV, boredom and anxiety would set in. (Luckily this is a rare occurrence nowadays. I cherish the nights I’m actually at home relaxing) I would find myself sitting there thinking about how much better my life would be with a dog. Any time I would mention this to my parents they would holler at me and tell me I was crazy. “You don’t have the time or the money right now!” they insisted. I listened to their advice at the time, and instead started volunteering at my local SPCA. It was the best decision I ever made. When I was finally really ready to adopt a dog, around 5 or 6 years later, the most perfect little angel fell into my lap. You know him as Theodore aka Teddy.

Teddy and his “Smushy beard” as I call it.

I was 28 when I adopted Teddy. I was more established in my career and my personal life. I was done wanting to be out every weekend, and I just knew the time was right. Of course my parents still told me I wasn’t ready and couldn’t afford it bla bla bla (it’s their job to worry right?). But sometimes you have to just decide that you are actually an adult and ready to take on the responsibility. I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous the first couple days realizing that I was solely in charge of Teddy’s well being. However, he made it easy. He snuggled right into my life and my heart.

There were other reasons I waited to adopt a dog as well. I was having these eye opening experiences as a shelter volunteer. I realized that a lot of the dogs being surrendered to the shelter were not at fault at all. The people doing the surrendering weren’t really ready for the commitment. There are a lot of reason we get dogs in at our shelter. Some are seized, some are strays, and we get rescue wagons in from other states that need extra help. However, a lot of dogs are surrendered to us by their owners. Some of the most common reasons I see for surrendering an animal are the person(s) is moving, they don’t have enough time, or they cannot afford to care for them.

When it comes to moving related excuses for surrenders, a lot of people say, “Moving and I can’t bring my dog with me.” or “Moving and landlord won’t allow pets.” A more recent moving related reason that confounded me was, “Got dog for a graduation gift and had to move back in with parents where dog isn’t allowed.” (more on giving dogs as gifts at a later time…eye roll.) I get that sometimes life throws us curve balls and there is not much we can do about it. I know deep in my heart that I personally could never leave my dog behind. I would find a way bring him anywhere I went. I am starting to see this surge of young people(I’m talking 18-21ish) that are in college or have just moved out on their own that want to adopt a dog. This worries me because they are not thinking of the long term. Where will they be in 5 years? Will they have to move back home with their parents? Will they be moving half way across the world for work? A lot of them think about the here and now and not about the future. Adopting a dog is not something that should be taken lightly. It is a commitment to love, care, and provide for that animal for the rest of it’s life.

When animals are surrendered because people can’t afford to care for them, I just feel disappointed. Their owners really let them down. You have to be able to financially care for a dog. It’s the basic rule. It’s not just food, toys, and one yearly vet visit. There could be an emergency. You always have to be prepared. You would be surprised at how many people visiting the shelter complain about about adoption prices. Compared to other smaller rescues, breeders, and especially pet stores the fees are not very high. Those fees allow us to care for the animals while they are there. Sometimes people tell me they will have to come back because they have to wait until they get paid or need to borrow some money for the adoption fee. That is red flag right there. If you can’t afford to purchase a dog then how are you going to afford to take care of them for years to come? You have to be able to provide for an animal’s basic needs. If you can’t do that, then it is not the right time to get a dog.

Then we have those that give up their dog because they just don’t have enough time for them. It is an age old tale. People look into those big soulful puppy dog eyes and all reason goes right out the window. They get caught up in the moment. Then they get home and realize it’s not what they expected. They realize that their life is busy enough already and now they have a dog that depends on them. I know that I don’t have the time and energy to take another dog home with me right now. Trust me, it is tough seeing all the little furry faces at the shelter every week and not want to take them home. I just always remind myself that there is a better home for them right now. Some day I will be able to take on more animals and hopefully work on rehabilitation and training. Right now I just can’t, and that’s ok. I don’t let myself get carried away. There is so much that goes into owning a dog, especially a rescue dog.

If you are thinking about getting a dog I would suggest starting to look, but be careful to not make any rash decisions. It is important to spend time with different dogs to see what kind of personality really fits your life. After careful consideration and preparation you can make the decision if you are ready. I am reminded of a quote I have seen many times. “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” The problem is that for dogs, we are their WHOLE world. They deserve to have everything that we can give them. Being returned to the shelter and moved from home to home is very traumatic for them. We always want an adoption to be the dog’s “furever home”. Please be prepared to be there for them furever.

As always, thanks for reading! I would love to know what you all would like to hear about. I see so much in my line of work and I could tell stories and give advice on this topic for days! My goal is to spread awareness and make the world a better place for animals and people alike. Follow me on Instagram @singldogmom for more behind the scenes glimpses into my life at the shelter and as always that little cutie Teddy!

Pups of the week:

This week is a little different. Our shelter just had its biggest fundraiser of the year, “Paws in the Park 2019” We had our best year yet and raised over $125,000 for the animals. I captained a team of walkers with their pups and had my best year raising over $500. Thank you to all of my friends, family, and co workers that donated. In honor of all the support, I thought I would feature a couple of our most recent pups that have benefited from donations.


This lovable pit bull terrier was surrendered by her owners nearly blind. She had a condition in which he eyelids were folded in a little and her lashes etc. were irritating her eyes so bad they got horribly infected. The Veterinarians thought she might have permanent damage. She had surgery on her eyes to fix the problem and has since been recovering beautifully. This picture was taken a couple weeks ago. Since then she looks even better and her spirits couldn’t be higher! Nena’s surgery wouldn’t have been possible without donations.


Gideon was surrendered to us in August in critical condition. He needed emergency surgery to correct the issue and was in the ICU for a while. His surgery was made possible by donations, and the shelter was able to save his life. He has since been adopted and is enjoying life as a new dog!

Teddy and Co. walking at Paws in the Park last weekend:

Teddy and Bliss walking the walk!
Teddy giving big ole buddy (also a rescue from our shelter) the side eye. Teddy thinks he is the boss after all!
Teddy meeting some therapy goats!
Teddy making some new friends!

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